Showing Jesus to International Students
Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray that you are well and abiding in our Lord and Savior during these constant changing times. All of our blog posts have been about the church in India; but Go Give Hope also ministers to the International Students at Colorado Mesa University, (CMU). Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Ken Staton, a volunteer with Colorado Mesa Universities’ International Student Exchange Program. Go Give Hope has been working with Ken to help serve the international students and show them God love.
Ken started praying for a way to serve International students several years ago. He decided one way he might be able to work with them would be to call Colorado Mesa University and see if he could become a volunteer. They put him in contact with Annie Gingrich, the director of the student exchange program. Annie invited Ken to the first student orientation. Once he arrived, Annie told Ken he was the first speaker. Ken had not planned on speaking so he was a little caught off guard. Ken stood before that group of students and simply told them he is a believer in Jesus Christ and he was there to help meet their needs. A lot of these students come here and rent an apartment or house and have nothing to furnish it with and no means of transportation. Go Give Hope works with Ken to help gather donated items such as beds, appliances, food, and bicycles to give to those students.
This year there are 350 international students from 50 different countries on the CMU campus. All of them go through some culture shock. The one thing everyone misses is the food from their home country. The students say they feel well received on campus although the language barrier can be difficult. In regards to other differences they say it is hard for them to explain. “It is like comparing apples to oranges,” Ken says.
One of the biggest challenges Ken faces is communicating with some of the students in order to get them the things they need. Usually Ken will find out a student needs something from another student he has contact with and never gets to meet the other person. Ken has been able to develop a relationship with a few students and even read the Bible with them and talk to them about it. Because their worldview is so different it makes it difficult to help them see the truth of God’s Word. Ken will challenge their ideas by asking them what they believe, even asking them to read from the Koran or whichever text they believe in, in order to get an idea of where they are coming from on certain topics. When trying to explain the truth of God’s Word in comparison, a lot of times they don’t understand it. Ken says, “They are totally blind, but you don’t get mad at them for it. You just go over it another time.”
Some of the students ask Ken why he is different from other people they know. Ken tells them, “It is because I copy the Bible.” Ken literally copies down Bible verses and carries them around with him while he works on memorizing them. This is something they have never seen before. God has given Ken a love for these students and they know he truly cares about them. In turn they trust him. Ken watches out for them to ensure they are not taken advantage of. Ken will also make time to help them if they ask. A lot of them will cook food from their home country for him. When they ask, “Do you like it?” Ken always replies with, “Yes.” More than the food, Ken is grateful for the fact that these students are interested in him enough to allow him into their lives. This is how Ken is able to build relationships with the students which gives him the opportunity to share the gospel.
One student named Pedro was riding with Ken to get a haircut. Pedro told him he was afraid to die. Ken told him he should be. Pedro had been living a sin filled life at CMU. Ken was able to tell him the gospel. He asked Pedro if he could pray with him, but Pedro wanted to pray alone. After that day Ken noticed a change in Pedro. He is a lot more helpful and has a peace about him. It is these moments Ken prays for; to share the truth with these young men and women who will one day go back to their home countries and share the truth with others. Most of these students return home after they graduate and usually lose touch with people from the program at CMU.
Moments like with Pedro are not to be taken for granted. It is truly amazing when these students let these volunteers like Ken into their world and build a relationship which God can use to plant a seed in their hearts. These students come to trust Ken because they know he genuinely cares. Ken wants you to know that, “These people’s souls are at stake. The reliance and dependence are on the Lord. Jesus is at work in their lives. Some might not understand what is being said to them but that does not matter. God Has put them there for a purpose. Pray that the Lord reveals Himself.” If you would like to know more about how you can help Go Give Hope serve international students please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go Give Hope team